Our second week of blogging has begun! This week, we are addressing an issue near and dear to our hearts: the need for Asian American activism. If you already know what activism is (hint: mobilizing people for a cause through media, protests, or education programs), then you might be really confused. “Why do Asian Americans (AAPI) need activists?” you might be muttering to your computer screen. Besides the fact that you are talking to yourself, a classic symptom of some neurological disorders, you have a point. Aren’t all AAPI’s doctors, or lawyers, or really smart?
What you’ve brought up is the model minority myth, the idea that AAPI are submissive, good citizens who don’t make trouble, get steady middle-class jobs, and pay their taxes on time. However, this myth can be harmful to AAPI’s, causing us to be passed over for promotions (we are too meek and submissive for leadership positions! And we don’t fight back!).
But Asian American activism isn’t just to fight back against this perception of AAPI’s as weak. It also intends to bring light to injustices committed against our community. For instance, many of you are probably following the case of Trayvon Martin, a black teen who was shot by a neighborhood watch member. But how many of you know of Danny Chen?
In 2011, Danny was killed/committed suicide (we don’t know which to this day) because of the torture and race-motivated bullying that he underwent during training. His fellow soldiers and higher-ups called him “gook” and “chink” while forcing him to crawl across gravel. Danny’s fellow soldiers were allowed to throw rocks at him and kick him with their knees. Where was Danny’s sergeant during this abuse? Oh, that’s right: he was dragging Danny across 15 meters of gravel, leaving cuts on his back. This kind of racial hatred and treatment should have made headlines across the nation. Unfortunately, it was up to AAPI activist groups to raise awareness of the racial problems between Asian Americans and the rest of America.
Activism doesn’t just happen in large groups or organizations, however. It can start with each of us. For instance, how many of you have seen the movies “Red Dawn” and “Olympus has Fallen”? In both movies, North Koreans take over the US, kill the president or wreck havoc. You’d expect people to realize that it’s a fantasy, right?
Nope. There have been plenty of racist tweets in the aftermath, some of which are puzzlingly directed at Chinese and other Asians (who were not in the movie at all. Guess we all look alike—oh wait, that’s another stereotype that needs remedying). What’s worrying about these tweets is that they aren’t just innocuous ramblings—some of them show an intent of violence toward AAPI’s, all under the guise of patriotism. We could have another Danny Chen incident on our hands, unless we step up and educate those around us about what AAPI’s really are, the differences between our groups, and our history in the US.
As you see, AAPI activism is needed now, more than ever, here and everywhere. We hope you will join us this week for new blog posts every day on important issues affecting our community.